Softball scheduling is apparently quite flexible. Unpleasant conditions caused the cancellation of NC State's Raleigh-based Hyatt Place Challenge, a tournament that would have seen the Pack take on five different opponents in three days. Instead, the team headed south to Statesboro, Georgia, to play Georgia Southern, right? Well no. They actually ended up playing both Dayton and Eastern Kentucky twice, winning all four games with relative ease to move to 7-6 on the season.
Dayton and EKU were joined by Bradley and UNC for the Eagle Classic II (GSO hosts a pair of early season tournaments); NC State was not officially part of the tournament.
The most impressive performances on the weekend came Friday on the bump for the Pack, as Courtney Mirabella notched a no-hitter against Dayton. The Flyers actually struck first despite getting no hit, plating an unearned run in the first, but the sophomore right-hander set down 17 straight at one point while her team rallied for a 3-1 win. Mirabella went seven innings and struck out 10, walking three and hitting one in her second career no-no. A three-run homer from Maggie Hawkins was all the offense Mirabella needed.
Mirabella's gem came on the heels of an odd record-setting performance from Pack ace Emily Weiman, who set a school record with a 17-strikeout performance in an 8-1 win against EKU. With State leading comfortably, Weiman was lifted in favor of freshwoman Harli Hubbard after five innings, but the rookie walked four in a row, causing Shawn Rychcik to run Weiman back out there to finish the game. Weiman struck out the first 12 batters of the contest and finished with flair, fanning the side in the seventh. EKU managed just one hit, while Hawkins, Molly Hutchinson, Tyler Ross, and Hannah Yeager had two hits apiece for the Pack. Meredith Burroughs homered.
The Pack won its first mercy-rule shortened game of the season Saturday behind two more homers from Hawkins and another one-hitter from Weiman, who went the distance in the 12-3 blowout over Dayton. Weiman didn't walk anyone but was touched for three runs (one earned) thanks to some shoddy defense (including her second E-1 of the season). Perhaps the Pack relaxed a bit after plating eight in the top of the first.
Weiman added a save Sunday, striking out five of the six batters she faced in State's 5-2 win over EKU. Mirabella went the first five for the win and allowed three of the five hits the team gave up all weekend. That's five total hits in 27 innings. You can win a lot of games like that. Hannah Yeager's first home run of the season backboned the offense.
The Pack travel to UNCW Wednesday before finally playing a home game this weekend when Syracuse comes to town for the teams' ACC opener. The Cuse, 12-12 last year in ACC play, is off to just a 6-7 start but has been in every game, never losing a contest by more than two runs.
Things went quite a bit less well at the Baseball at the Beach tournament for the Pack nine, which dropped two of three at Coastal Carolina's event. Gone are the days of wildthings Logan Jernigan and Anthony Tzamtzis, but one would not have known it this weekend.
Cory Wilder lived up to his name by walking three and hitting a batter in 2.2 innings in Saturday's 9-6 loss to an Albany team that won all of 12 games last year. Wilder's wildness helped the Great Danes take a 4-0 lead. The Pack had pulled back to within two runs before three errors led to three unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Preston Palmeiro's bases-clearing triple, part of a four-RBI day, was one of few bright spots for the Pack in their tournament opener.
Things got considerably worse against host Coastal Carolina, as three Pack pitchers combined to walk six batters and hit three while surrendering 10 runs over the first two frames. The threesome, not named here out of respect to their next of kin, needed 93 pitches to get the first six outs. Bright spots are hard to find in the 12-3 shellacking, but oft-injured Johnny Piedmonte made the case for more time on the mound with three shutout frames in relief. He fanned five and did not walk anyone.
A pair of freshmen made impressive debuts as the Pack did manage to sandwich a win between the losses, taking down Florida International 3-1 in their second game on Saturday. Lefty Brian Brown, who was 17-1 over his junior and senior seasons with an ERA well below one for Coatesville Area High in Pennsylvania, allowed just two hits and a run over six innings in his first career start. He struck out nine. Charlotte Providence product Tommy Dejuneas was dominant in three frames to earn his first career save, striking out six without allowing a baserunner.
NC State will try to move to 4-2 when it hosts North Carolina A&T Tuesday afternoon.
The twentieth ranked Wolfpack fell short in their bid to beat a fourth ranked opponent in February, falling 20-12 against #6 Oklahoma State Sunday night in Raleigh. The Pack did win four of 10 bouts, including three over ranked opponents.
In the most anticipated match of the evening, defending national champion Nick Gwiazdowski earned a 4-1 decision over #5 Austin Marsden in the heavyweight class. Marsden was the fourth top 10 wrestler Gwiazdowski has downed this season; he has won a school record 48 consecutive bouts.
Senior Joe DeAngelo (#26) edged #8 Eddie Kilmara 3-2 in his last home bout at 125. True freshman Kevin Jack dominated #16 Dean Heil, winning 7-3 at 141. Beau Donahue accounted for State's other win with a 9-7 decision over Davey Dolan at 149 in one of just two bouts that did not feature a ranked wrestler.
Up next for the Pack are the ACC championships March 8th in Pittsburgh.